Happy Wheels

I don’t know what to say about Happy Wheels. I mean, it’s fucking insane.

Having gotten sick of LAN matches, a friend and I began paroling the Internet separately. I think I was checking my email when I heard him burst into laughter. I glanced at his screen and saw he was playing what appeared to be some kind of racing game… with a homeless man in a wheelchair.

Other playable characters included a somewhat yuppie-ish businessman on a personal transport, a mustached man with a child strapped to the rear of his bicycle who’s appropriately called “Irresponsible Dad,” and a heavy woman in a motorized shopping cart, complete with groceries in the basket. Since then, two characters have been added and that’s part of the fun of Happy Wheels: it’s a work in progress, which means the re-playability is through the roof.

So, it’s not really a racing game. The point of the game, if you need one, is to make it to the exit while dodging a wide range of obstacles. Mines, spikes, killer robots, psychotic Pokemon (is the plural of Pokemon really Pokemon?), you name it. If it’s not in the game yet you can add it yourself with the level editor. What makes this game so utterly addicting, however, is the mesmerizing physics. Chances are, you’ll lose limbs like a cricket before reaching the end of any level. Meanwhile, getting gibbed is as easy as 1-2-3.

Clever, fun, bizarre… Happy Wheels is all of these and more.

Infectonator! World Dominator

In Infectonator! you play a zombie virus or, more accurately, the means of distributing said virus. In each stage, you’re in a new real world location, trying to infect as many humans as possible. You do this by clicking the left mouse button which, in the beginning, disperses four… uh… spores, I guess. Whoever gets clipped by the spores become zombies, who can then attack other humans.

I know this point-and-click zombie simulator sounds rather dull, but stick with it, because the more humans you infect, the more powerups you get. Soon, you’ll be dispersing more than four spores at a time, throwing bombs, and gaining access to special zombies, which range from Ronald McDonald to Michael Jackson. I got stuck playing this game until four in the morning on a work night once so let me suggest playing while you’re at work, not after.

Maniac Mansion Deluxe

Maniac Mansion was a game that fascinated me as a child. It seemed cool, but for all its hamster-microwaving glory, there was a major problem: controlling it was a pain in the ass, which is to say nothing about my short attention span. The game was obviously developed with a mouse in mind, but who the hell had a computer you could play games on in the 8-bit era?

Fast forward over twenty years later (yes, it really has been that long) and you’ll find a German fan created a remake that works like a dream, even on 64-bit operating systems. There’s a fine line to walk when remaking a classic: do you update the graphics for the young gamers, but at the risk of alienating the people old enough to have played the original? Or do you give in to nostalgia and release your game looking rather dated when compared to the stuff that’s out today? Thankfully, the remaker opted for a combination of the two and the game has never looked better.

One thing which blew me away at the start was the music. It’s the same music, only better. It totally whisks you away into flashback mode.

As usual, I forget the first person who enters the kitchen is going to get locked up in the dungeon. That person, in my case, is Dave. So I’m roaming the house with the two ladies when I come across the talking tentacle upstairs. The tentacle doesn’t attack you, it just stands there like an immovable slob. In order to progress, you’ve got to give him food.

Naturally, the Tentacle Chow seems like it’d be the perfect food for a tentacle. But the tentacle complains that he’s still hungry after you feed him that, so you’ve got to go get the wax fruit from the room with the unfinished painting. Yes, tentacles think wax fruit is delicious. But then the lazy bastard still doesn’t move because he wants something to drink. Pepsi? Nope. Soda makes him burp.

So, like most adventure games of the era, it’s a maddening exercise in really, really stretched logic, but hey, it’s a lot more fun than the latest Duke Nukem game, that’s for fucking sure.